Woman steals van, returns vehicle to owner after finding 3-year-old child inside

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SALT LAKE CITY – A woman allegedly stole a van in Salt Lake City Sunday, but the suspect returned the van after she realized there was a child inside.

Police said the incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. in the area near 530 S. Concord St. when Isabella Ortega left her van running with her 3-year-old daughter, Maya, inside and then went to make sure her house was locked; while Ortega was away from the van another woman jumped inside and drove off.

"I turn around and my car is running and I say, 'my baby, my baby is in there,'" Ortega said.

Officials with the Salt Lake City Police Department said the suspect wasn’t aware of the child until she had driven a few miles west.

"Our suspect felt remorse, turned around, came back to the home where she stole the van, got out knocked on the front door and asked if she could wait inside for police, basically turning herself in," said Lt. Scott White.

The child was not injured.

The suspect has been identified by authorities as 22-year-old Idaly Proano. She now faces charges for stealing property and possession of drugs, and police said the woman has been arrested for drug-related crimes in the past.

Ortega said it's not the first time she's seen the woman in her neighborhood.

"I say I think I know her because I saw her face, I know her, I don't know where," Ortega said.

As for Maya, she seemed unfazed by the entire ordeal. Just another day in the life of a 3-year-old.

"I asked her, 'were you scared when she took you?' and she said 'no,'" Ortega said. "She has a book and maybe she played with that and doesn't know who was driving."

Police are thankful the suspect had enough sense to return the child.

"You hate to say you thank the thief, but in this case you thank the thief for not harming the child," White said.

Police officials said the incident is a reminder that it is never a good idea to leave a child in a car by themselves, even in your own neighborhood.


  • jewlzzz

    I guess it’s never to late to tell the truth and do the right thing. And do we not learn from our mistakes? Leaving a 3 year old unattended in a running vehicle, mom needs to turn herself in.

    • Ashley

      No she doesn’t. She did nothing wrong. She walked a few feet away to check her door of her house for crying out loud.

      • Jenn

        I agree, she only turned for a few seconds, the car was right there. But it shows how fast that it can actually happen, (matter of seconds), never leave your car running/leave your keys in the ignition while running into the gas station/store “or in this case” back to your house! ;)

  • Ron

    all around a “good ending” the thief was caught, child was not hurt and returned safe, property returned, hopefully a lesson learned by mom to never ever leave a child in the car and the thief was shown mercy by police……..they didnt charge her with child kidnapping (felony) and grand-theft (felony).

    • mike

      The thief was not caught. She was a good person who realized she needed help and turned herself in. Read the story you idiots.

  • Felicia

    So she goes back to the house, turns her self in and before the police get there she didn’t even think to ditch the drugs she had on her. Duh lady the police are going to search you. Like you need a extra charge. Oh n I really wish people would stop leaving thier kids and animals in their cars for real how can u forget your kid.

  • karen

    it took courage for Ms. Proano to safely return the three year old child back to her Mother. I hope she gets the help she needs to become a more productive citizen.

  • Bob

    Funny how people who don’t have children themselves seem to think they are wiser on the subject than those who do.

  • c

    It bugs me when my husband leaves my baby in the car by herself then runs back into the house for something “real quick”. I don’t care how long you’re gonna be, the baby is the LAST thing you put IN the car, and the FIRST thing you take OUT.

  • Anonymous

    A baby is not a purse nor a pair of shoes for you to place in a vehicle and leave the child in that vehicle while you walk away to do something else. What’s scary, are the number of people who support her stupidity with her own child. Glad this had a happy ending but this mother left her child in a car and left the car. Bad parenting 101.

    • mike

      She ran back to make sure that the front door was locked in her own neighborhood for God’s sake. Stop with the judgments already.

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